|January 20, 2000 |
HARKIN JOINS OTHER DEMOCRATSIowa Senator Pushes Lott,
Hastert to Convene Public Meetings
IN CALLING ON PATIENTS' RIGHTS
CONFEREES TO RESUME MEETINGS
WASHINGTON --- U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today joined other
Democrats to call on House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Senate Majority
Leader Trent Lott in a letter insisting that the conference committee on
the Patients' Bill of Rights convene public meetings as soon as Congress
returns to session. Harkin, the only member of the Iowa Congressional
delegation to be a conferee on the legislation, is a senior member of the
Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
"Hardworking American families should not be forced to wait any longer
to get the same health care protections that Members of Congress already
have," said Harkin. "During the time the conferees have failed to act,
hundreds of thousands of Americans have suffered from health plan abuses.
There is no excuse for further delay."
In October, the House of Representatives passed the Norwood-Dingell
Patients' Bill of Rights which provides several strong health care
protections to patients against HMOs, but appointment of conferees was
delayed until November 3rd. Harkin called on Hastert and Lott in a letter
on November 10th requesting that the conferees meet before the end of the
House Democratic conferees wrote to Speaker Hastert on November 5th,
requesting that Republican conferees begin bipartisan negotiations, but
there has been no reply to their letter. There has been no meeting of the
conferees, nor have Republican staff been directed to begin discussions
with Democratic staff.
A copy of the letter is available upon request.